Ridiculously good onion bhaji recipe

March 18, 2013

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I’m a big fan of South Asian cuisine. There was a momentous time when I was growing up in Malaysia where I ate proper Indian food for the very first time. I was captivated by the plate-less experience as a large and green banana leaf takes the place of a plate. All of a sudden, five different vegetable side dishes were generously spooned around the leaf by an Indian guy carrying a large metal container with 5 compartments. Did I tell you that these vegetables were refillable, free of charge too? Another Indian man then swoops in to deliver scoops of steamy hot rice until you say ‘when’ and then with a large ladle delivers your choice of curried gravy: fish, chicken, dhal/sambhar and then he tops it all off with some papadum. Still in awe, a small unpretentious plastic plate arrives and on it, nuggets of crispy, caramelized onion fritters. It was a side of onion bhaji and it came with a sweet and spicy tamarind dipping sauce. It wasn’t an essential component to banana leaf rice, it sure was a decadent addition. I took a bite and it was crispy, sweet and spicy on top of a strong caramelized onion flavour. It was delicious!

I don’t get to eat banana leaf rice in North America. The closest I’ve gotten was a thali meal  served on a metal plate, sometimes with a small square of banana leaf, and you don’t get to refill your vegetable side dishes. But I have eaten my fair share of onion bhajis around town in Montreal. And I have to say, I wasn’t very impressed with them. Most of them were just okay, all of them were over-floured. And so were my quests to make them at home. Then I found an onion bhaji recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation. The episode explored Gujerati cuisine in the UK. The method the Gujeratis use to make their onion bhaji floored me, it was simple and it made sense. The result was a crispy, delicious onion bhaji from my childhood and I have an alternative flour you can use if you cannot find chickpea flour.

This recipe makes approximately 30 ping-pong ball sized onion bhaji. read more …

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The Squash That Got Curried Away

May 23, 2009

Oh I don’t believe it! Remnants of winter in my pantry, a lone butternut squash leans quietly at the very back of my sack of rice and onions. A sneaky one.

Pacing to and fro the fridge and cupboard, I realized that I also have a lot of unused curry powder from Malaysia too. I’ve been making my own curry spice when I needed some. I bet that pile of pre-packed curry powder have been feeling rather lonely too.

That lone butternut squash will be good for a vegetarian squash curry. On a bed of rice. With a cold lemony slaw.

I don’t know about you but curried squash can be so delicious and yet so simple.

Check out the recipe after the jump!


I toasted some spices to go with the packet curry powder from Malaysia. I like my curries to pack a nice aroma with a spicy punch.


Butternut Squash Curry

2 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 small carrot, cubed
1/2 cup spinach
2 onions, chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon caraway
4-6 pods of cardamom
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 star anise
3 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 dried chili, deseeded
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper


Method
1. Toast the coriander seeds, cumin, caraway and cardamom until aromatic. Be mindful as to not burn the spices.
2. Pound the toasted spices in a mortar and pestle until all the spices are crushed.
3. In a same pan, heat oil and toss in the mustard seeds and star anise. When the mustard seeds starts popping, add the onions and garlic in. Saute until the onion is translucent.

4. Now, add the pounded spices and dried chili in. Saute for a minute or two and then add the squash and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables for approximately 8 minutes or until the squash is slightly opaque on its sides.
5. Add the curry powder and turmeric powder in and saute to combine well. Pour the yogurt in with the spinach and cook for another 10 minutes.

Serve the curry hot a bed of basmati rice and a side of lemony slaw (recipe below).

Lemony Slaw Recipe
1 pre-packed coleslaw vegetable mix (cabbages, carrots)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
50 grams of raisins (optional)
a big pinch of chili flakes
salt and pepper

Method:
1. Mix the lemon juice, mayonnaise, chili flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl until well combine.
2. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Chill before serving.

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Easy peasy lamb curry

September 16, 2007

I love curries and cannot live without having it at least once every week. This lamb curry recipe was cooked to go with my nasi kunyit (turmeric rice) instead of the usual chicken curry. And this lamb curry is so delicious, you couldn’t help having seconds after. The key is to let it cook under slow heat for a few hours..:)

Anyhow, let’s get down to it shall we?

What you need:
500g stewing lamb (Marinade lamb with 1tsp turmeric powder, 1teaspoon ginger powder, salt and pepper)
1 tsp cumin
5 pods of cardamom
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon garaam masala
1/4 cup red curry powder
1 tablespoon paprika powder
2 large juicy tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of cubed aubergines (optional)
2 tablespoons oil

To blend:
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:
1. Heat pan with oil on medium and saute the star anise, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cumin for 1 minute or until the cumin starts popping. Add the blended ingredients in and start sauteing until the ingredients is fragrant (approx. 3-4 minutes).2. Add your curry powder, garaam masala, and paprika. The ingredients will come to a paste so continue stirring and sauteing for a minute so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Now, dump your tomatoes in, the juices will start to disperse the thick paste making it more liquid like. If it’s still too thick, add 100ml of water in.3. You can now add your lamb in. Cook until the curry comes to a simmer and then put heat to low. Add aubergines, cover and cook for a few hours, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender.
Serve with your favorite rice!

What’s easy about this is that prep and cooking takes about 30 minutes and the rest is just waiting until it done. Perfect for dinner time 🙂

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Idly Idli

July 13, 2007

A week or so ago, I felt like making idli for dinner. For those of you who don’t know what idli is, it’s a type of steamed cake made out of grounded rice and urad dhal paste that has been fermented. Fermentation process in this case is just a simple one where you just put your idli mixture on your kitchen counter until it starts foam on the top. When it does, it’s ready to use.

Idli takes a while to prepare because of the waiting time basically. So, plan this ahead of time 🙂 This recipe is great for idling the time away while you wait for it to be ready, hence the name Idly Idli for the subject.

What you need is:
3 cups parboiled rice (washed and soaked overnight)
1 cup urad dhal (washed and soaked overnight)
1/2 tsp. soda bicarbonate
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

Method:
1. With a food processor, process the rice and the dhal separately before combining them together with the rest of the ingredients.
2. Let them sit on the counter of your kitchen for no less than 7 hours, better if you could leave it overnight. Cover it with plastic wrap, of course.

Once you see that the mixture is frothy ontop, your idli mixture is ready.

3. I used ramekins to make my idli, you can go ahead and use macaroon tin or something of that nature. Anyway, fill the ramekins up about 1/3rd of the way. Steam in a rice cooker or a bamboo steamer for about 15 minutes. Your idli should come out clean when you poke it with a skewer. That means it’s done 🙂

Serve with dhal curry, sambhar or with just about any of your favorite curries. I served mine with some dhal and spicy sweet potato chips 🙂

Teh Tarik or “pulled tea” (in Malay) which actually a Malaysian-like Cappuccino, would be great with this meal.

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Indian Style Veggies

June 22, 2007
Veggies!!

This is the vegetable portion of Weekend Cookout where I made Spinach with Grated Coconut and cabbaged cooked in turmeric and mustard seeds. Well, all the reference I got was from eating Banana Leaf Rice back in Malaysia where you’d get 3 different types of veggies, an option of dhall and/curry and topped with whatever protein you want. The cabbage and spinach ones came into mind mostly so I tried to recreate two of that veggies dish last weekend. It was quite a success as the tastes are almost similar.

Indian cuisine tend to overcook their veggies – and cook veggies are kind of like a peeve of mine. I hate overcooked vegetables in general, but when there’s so much spice, the limpness and softness of the veggies kinda goes with the spices used for some reason. 🙂
Cabbage with Turmeric and Mustard Seeds:
1/4 cabbage, sliced into 1 cm in width
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
salt and pepper to taste
a bit of water
1 tablespoon oil

Method:
1. Heat pan with oil and saute garlic until it is fragrant and a slight opaqueness can be seen on the sides. Add mustard seeds until it starts popping.
2. Now you can dump your cabbage in with roughly 2 tablespoons of water and let the cabbage wilt and cook.
3. Add your turmeric, salt and pepper and saute until all is well combined. Cover and cook for another 5-8 minutes more.

Serve 🙂

Spinach with grated coconut recipe:
2 bags of spinach, cleaned and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1/4 cup of grated coconut
1/4 cup cream/full cream milk
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon oil

Method:
1. Heat pan with oil and saute garlic together until fragrant, approx. 2 minutes.
2. Add coconut, cream, ginger, cumin and chili powder in. Saute until mixture is well blended and the smell of the spices permeates the air. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
3. Now add your spinach and cover to cook for a few minutes, until spinach is wilted and cooked down (approx. 5-8mins).
4. Continue cooking if you want a softer texture but if you want more crunch, you can serve your cooked spinach now.

With that veggie recipes completed, you see what I have in my plate. I ate with my hands, like a true blue malaysian, that day. It’s been a while since I did and man, food never tasted SOOOO good! 😀

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